Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Tips to prevent blisters

IMO, and I'm not a doctor, the best way to handle blisters, is to prevent them.

If you get a hot spot on your heel or somewhere else, put your ego in your pocket and stop!

Take time to put a simple piece of tape or a bandaid on the hot spot to eliminate the rub and prevent more problems down the trail.

Up until last year, I had gone years without a blister.

Last April 2019, while camped at bright angel campground, grand canyon NP, I took off my socks to walk around in my trail runners and take pictures. Unbelievably, I didn't notice my heel was being rubbed until it was too lake and I had a huge blister. 

Fortunately, I was able to just tape it down and drive on with no pain.

REI Member Since 1979
11 Replies

I agree with the OP in that prevention is the best medicine.  If you treat a hot spot early it won't have a chance to get worse.  And as long as you're walking, it won't get better without intervention.

Reduce friction by using liner socks.  I love Injinji socks with toes.  I used to be plagued with blisters between toes, but I've not had a single problem since changing to Injinjis.  I never even need to think about my feet anymore.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I agree.  The trick is getting tape that sticks.  I find that no matter how sticky the tape is, I have to clean my skin with an alcohol prep pad or something. Otherwise, my duct-tape or KT tape isn't going to stay put.

Incidentally, I have also played around a little with Body Glide and found that it helps.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I agree that prevention is key.

Like others I've found that two socks, a thin polypropylene liner with a wool/blend outer sock, works best. If the liner sticks to the skin then it provides the same sort of blister prevention as tape all over the foot. One issue to look for how seams in the liner socks are positioned. You want to avoid a seam that rubs against the toes, etc.

I also use so-called medical/surgical/hospital tape around vulnerable areas, especially after a blister has developed. There are several varieties of this tape available so I recommend that people experiment to see what works for them.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Well fitted shoes and boots, gradually worn and broken in, make a big difference.  Contemporary foot gear breaks in a lot easier, gives fewer blisters, but also wears out faster than the clop hoppers your grandfather wore....

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
For years I would get quarter-sized blisters on the backs of both of my heels after backpacking or strenuous hiking. I tried lots of things to solve the issue, including:
  1. Tightening my boots' laces;
  2. Loosening my boots' laces;
  3. Wearing sock liners under regular hiking socks;
  4. Trying socks of different thicknesses;
  5. Duct tape on my heels;
  6. Preventative application of moleskin doughnuts around the areas that blister; and
  7. Vaseline or other slippery stuff on my heels.
Some of those things helped a little, but nothing would prevent me getting blisters in the usual spot on every backpacking trip I went on.
After all of the trial and error, I came to the conclusion that my blisters were the result of sweaty feet. My feet would sweat, my socks would retain the moisture, and eventually the moisture would weaken my skin and increase friction between my heel and boot. Blistering ensued.
As others have suggested, taking a few moments when you feel a blister coming on to attend to it is a great idea. For me this involves removing my shoes and socks, allowing my feet to dry a bit, and changing to a dry pair of socks (I attach the wet ones to the outside of my pack to dry as I continue on). I found these steps to help a great deal.
Lastly, I found these things called Heel Blister Patches from a company called ENGO that help tremendously. They affix via adhesive to the inside of your footwear, right where the heel comes into contact with your shoe or boot. They are very slippery, and reduce friction in just the right spot for me. I wholeheartedly recommend them, and they come in different shapes and sizes for application wherever you might benefit from them.
Happy Hiking!

OK ... I did the stupid thing and kept walking.  Now, I have significant open wounds on both feet.  So, I'm down for several days waiting to heal.  Any recommendations on speeding up the recovery?

And yes, I bought new boots that are much better than my starter pair.




@CajunHiker, tsk, tsk, tsk,, I know the feeling exactly, 'been there, done that'.

On my last trip to the Grand Canyon, April 2019, soooooo long ago, we had just arrived at Bright Angel Campground and were looking forward to a few hours of 'down time' to rest up a bit before the 'obligatory steak dinners' at Phantom Ranch, after the hike down from South Rim, when I decided to take off my socks and walk around the area to take photos. I was wearing my trusty trail runners and just wanted to let my feet 'air out' a bit.

The shoes were deliberately loose and very comfortable, but I did notice my heels were being rubbed just a little bit.

Well, wouldn't you know it, when I got back to camp I a perfect nickel sized blister on one heel.  Unbelievable, I told myself.  This wasn't even a hiking blister, it was a 'standing around taking pictures blister?!'

That story told...and I'm not a doctor or a 'survivor-boy', but here's the advice I would give you:

Put a band-aid or piece of gauze on them (so tape doesn't stick directly on the skin), then tape, with multiple layers to ensure some padding over the wound, preferably something that will survive a shower, or three, and wait for 3-4 days, then peel everything off and, if necessary, repeat. (not sure about my commas here)

It's okay to pierce the blister bubble with a pin or something to get the juice out so you can tape it up better. (Must be true because I read it on the inter webs)

If you have any, maybe put a little neosporin on it before the first band-aid.

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

good luck

Now here's a photo of that event:

Looking down on BA Campground from S. Kaibab TrailLooking down on BA Campground from S. Kaibab Trail         Bright Angel CampgroundBright Angel Campground        scenes from Bright Angel Campgroundscenes from Bright Angel Campground


REI Member Since 1979

After eight years in the Marine Corps and humping 15 to 20 miles in a force marches with 70+ lbs of gear, the biggest things to prevent blisters was well fitting boots, socks and changing your socks when they get wet whether it be from water or sweat. When you stop for a break, take your socks and shoes off to let your feet air out. When we are hiking, we can stop when we please unlike during a force March. Take care of your feet because they are where the rubber meets the road/soil. They support EVERYTHING.


Figure friction is the cause of blisters. Things that increase friction include movement in the boot and wet feet (including from sweat). Dirt will do the job too.

Properly fitting and broken in boots that keep one’s heel in the heel pocket. Clean, dry, wool or synthetic  socks. Some fella’s I know wear a polypro liner sock under their wool socks to move moisture and provide a “glide layer.” 

That being said, some folks just have problem feet. A proper boot fitting by a good fitter will likely be worth every penny in these cases. A little moleskin in the pack applied to problem spots can help, just have to watch it doesn’t bunch up and cause a problem. Even duct tape helps in a pinch - anything to stop the friction from being on the skin’s surface. 

Been my experience anyway. Saw a lot of feet as an Army sergeant and guide. 

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” -Norman Maclean